Five at 8 – 6/10/09

5) Discussion point: The ethics of journalism. For some reason, names are usually in short supply in articles about prostitution rings and the Star Tribune continues the practice in its stories this week about prostitution rings in the Twin Cities. Today’s story about a Web site run by a Woodbury woman — in which the term “alleged” does not appear — contains this line:

Among the johns officers identified on the database was a local Cub Scout leader and they notified the organization’s national office.

How’d you like to be a Cub Scout leader in the Woodbury area who didn’t hire prostitutes?

In its Sunday story about the Nice Guys prostitution ring, the story ended with this:

“This should send a message that people who do this should no longer feel you can do it anonymously.’

But the story didn’t identify those people, other than one man, who has not yet been charged.

The question: When partially identifying someone (aka “A Cub Scout leader”) makes all similar people suspect, should news organizations not “partially identify” suspects?

4) One small step for stigma. On the Star Tribune’s op-ed page today, Lynda McDonnell, executive director of ThreeSixty Journalism summarizes what she learned by volunteering two hours a week in a charter school.

Special ed. Bipolar. The labels rise like fog, usually to explain away some lapse. In my school days, the labels were shorter and crueler — “slow,” “lazy,” “bad,” defining the limits of what was possible. Today’s more clinical labels can be used as excuses by teachers and students alike. But a special-ed student was the first to complete an assignment, overcoming deep shyness to interview fellow students. A bipolar student dodged every deadline, then stayed up all night to finish work lest she fail. The special-ed student needs extra explanation for some assignments. The bipolar student needs help imposing steadiness on her life. Both need high expectations, a wide sense of what is possible and fewer excuses for failure.

Oh dear. The danger of anecdotal expertise (one student turned in a homework assignment and the conclusion is that bipolar is a dodge?). So here’s the National Institutes of Mental Health paper on the neurological illness.

3) Should there be a nationwide ban on texting while driving? I saw a guy in Woodbury the other night making a left-hand turn while texting. He wasn’t a kid. Maybe the rising TWD demographic has something to do with smartphones rising from gadget to necessity. Or maybe, as the New York Times mentions today, it’s just a “Skinner Box” and we’re all just rats conditioned to press the button to get our food pellets.

Now that Minnesota has addressed the seat belt issue, which law would you favor next?(online surveys)

2) Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. AttackErman notes that when he was the director of the CIA, Defense Secretary Robert Gates tried to include more gays in the spy game.

All of this, of course, is another cheap excuse to embed a Stephen Colbert video:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Formidable Opponent – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Stephen Colbert in Iraq

1) “Don’t tase me, whippersnapper.” The taser debate is on again, thanks to a video of an elderly woman being tasered in — you’ll want to sit down for this — Texas.

There’s no video, however, of the man in Salt Lake City who died yesterday after being tasered because he was “agitated.”


Midmorning – Banks are paying the TARP money back. Is this a good thing? (See my post yesterday). Second hour: Why Americans have a nuanced view of class.

Midday – Mike Edgerly is hosting today. Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler is the first-hour guest, discussing his new book “The End of Overeating.” In the second hour: Four foreign policy experts debate the effectiveness of diplomacy with Iran. Speakers are Kenneth Pollack, Dennis Ross, Dan Senor, and Liz Cheney. The debate is part of the “Intelligence Squared” series from National Public Radio.

Talk of the Nation – Wednesday is “Political Junkie Day” with NPR’s Ken Rudin. Second hour: After accusations of racism fly at Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor, we’ll

look at accusations of bigotry. When is it okay to call someone racist?

All Things Considered – A tale of two downtowns. Brandt Williams notes we’re a year from the opening of Target Field on Minneapolis’ west side. What happens to the east side of downtown? MPR’s Sea Stachura observes the 85th year for the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge by asking what’s changed? KCUR’s Frank Morris goes tornado chasing — the lucky stiff. Melissa Block will speak with Joseph Sisto, who found thousands of historic artifacts in his dad’s attic when he died two years ago. Many of them were stolen from Italy. Here’s the Chicago Tribune story.

  • boB from WA

    RE Texting: Isn’t there a law already banning this?

  • Tyler

    I’m with you on the txting in the car, Bob. I was driving on Flying Cloud Drive and came to a stop light by EPC. I looked over, and a guy was txting/emailing on his crackberry. The light turned green, and the guy didn’t look up until the next light, nearly a mile later. He didn’t even have his hands on the wheel for half of that.

    That’s an accident waiting to happen.

  • Heather

    Bob, you didn’t give us a chance to choose ALL of these!

  • Bob Collins

    Yeah, my mistake, that should’ve said a ban on cellphone use while driving (aka: New York etc)